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You'll Never Read In This Town Again

So I was making dinner the other day when
Brian came over with an amused look on his face. “I hear you
read Pinocchio for nap time today,” he said casually.

“Yep,” I affirmed, “I did.” I didn’t
elaborate, hoping that would be the end of the conversation. Brian
continued to study me, nearly smirking. Resigned, I put down my
spatula, faced him, and asked with absolutely no attempt at
casualness, “Did Maddie say something?”

“Let’s see,” he said, staring thoughtfully at the
ceiling. “I want to get her words down right. I believe she
said – Oh, yes, she said –and I quote –
‘Mommy read Pinocchio to me today but she left out a
lot of the words, and when I tried to correct her she shushed me
and told me not to interrupt. Mommy’s not very good at that
story and I don’t think I’ll let her read it
again.’ Does that ring a bell at all?”

Yes, I was upbraided by a three-year-old for my lack of good
reading skills.

In my defense, here’s my side of the story.

By the time we hit naptime I was done for
the day – Maddie’d been a disciplinary handful and Cora
was in the midst of (yet another) needy spell. I’d finally
gotten Cora down for her nap and was desperate to whiz Maddie
through her naptime routine and into Dreamland so I could catch a
few minutes of quiet time before the C Monster woke up. As Maddie
chose her two books for naptime, I was (not so) silently cheering
for those (brief) classics like The Hungry Caterpillar or
Goodnight Moon, so when she selected that stupid puppet book
and the freakin’ Lorax I almost screamed. I
couldn’t take a half-hour of the questions and commentary
sure to accompany the two books. So I did what any good mother
would do while reading to her angel.

I cheated.

Look, don’t tell me I’m the only one here. I know every
single one of you has purposefully turned two pages at once, or
skipped ahead whole paragraphs after being interrupted by a toddler
for a side conversation. Truth be told, I don’t think
Maddie’s ever heard the entire Lorax read out loud; I
know I certainly trim whole pages and paragraphs, trying my best to
make the cuts sound Seussian. I’ve passed that tip onto Brian
and Gamma, thinking to spare them a slow Death by Rhyme when
it’s their turn to read.

Apparently I’d forgotten to tell them I do the same thing
with Pinocchio.

I started confidently into the book, trimming a phrase here, an
unnecessary adjective there, just trying to get through the book a
wee bit faster. And let’s face it: the Little Golden Book
version of Pinocchio is pretty clunky, trying to condense a
feature film into twelve pages. Not to mention the fact that
it’s a rather scary book for little kids. So off I went:
“The clock struck nine, and Gepetto went to bed.”

“No, Mommy, you forgot to say, ‘Gepetto said,
“Goodnight, Figaro! Goodnight, Cleo! Goodnight, Jiminy
Cricket!”’” my daughter chirped suddenly.

Dang it. So I had. “Oh, thanks baby, I see it here.” I
continued on, glossing over the description of the Blue Fairy.
(She’s blue. She’s a fairy. ‘Nuff said.)
“Mommy!” the heavy eyes snapped open. “The Blue
Fairy floated daintily into the room.”

And on we went. I foolishly continued to try cutting, even though
the corrections were taking more time than a literal reading would
have. I kept thinking, She couldn’t have the whole stupid
book memorized! I don’t read it that often to her! Well,
apparently someone else does, and after the twentieth (or so)
interruption I snapped, “Maddie, you are interrupting me, and
that’s very rude. Please stop.”

“But Mommy, you’re just -“ “No, Maddie, I
don’t want to hear it. Please stop interrupting so I can
finish the book.”



“But you’re reading it wrong.”

I pretended not to hear that last bit (for what could I say?
Totally busted.) and finished it out as best I could, hoping What
Happens At Naptime Stays At Naptime.

But apparently Maddie thought the incident newsworthy enough to
include in her Daily Pre-Dinner Summary for Daddy.

Once I got over feeling ridiculously underqualified to read to my
daughter, I remembered I’d done it on purpose, and while it
may not have been pretty, it was a deliberate choice and not a lack
of skills on my part. Thus cheered up, I even went one step further
and celebrated the fact that Maddie now finds me Not Up To Snuff on
the Pinocchio front, and won’t select the book with me
any more.

Unfortunately, that victory dance came a little too soon, because
yesterday Maddie turned to me in her chair during naptime and said
solemnly, “Let’s give you another try with
Pinocchio, Mommy. I bet you can do it right.”

And with faith and encouragement like that, how could I cheat?

I sighed, and settled in for a long read.


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